A Covenant Retirement Community Was Once Military Housing

SANTA BARBARA, CA (July 27, 2015) — Who would have thought The Samarkand—a nonprofit, continuing-care retirement community operated by Covenant Retirement Communities—would have such an unconventional history?

0727 Women looking at samarkand exhibit
“Our history began 100 years ago when a gentleman by the name of Prynce Hopkins purchased 32 acres of land to build a Montessori boys’ school,” executive director Ruth Grande said during a recent ceremony to debut the Retrospect History Gallery, a 480-square-foot gallery located on campus detailing the property’s 100-year history in the Santa Barbara community.

“We were a boys’ school, a luxury hotel, military housing, and now we are a vibrant retirement community where people live and work,” Grande said.

The Retrospect History Gallery features original and reproduced photographs, floor-to-ceiling wall murals, story panels, collages, and artifacts in display cases to tell the century-old story.

At the center of the gallery is an oversized guestbook from The Samarkand Persian Hotel. It contains tributes from world-famous guests including art, cartoons, poems, comments, and more.

“This gallery has been a labor of love and a true collaboration among many,” said Paula Bodnar Schmitt, principal of Bodnar Design Consultancy in Chicago. She began the project in 2011 with former Samarkand executive director Paul Peterson. “It didn’t take long to realize the collection of materials was as unique and special as the story itself.”

Schmitt worked with The Samarkand archives committee, which assisted with research, review, and fact checking. Gledhill Library at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum and author Ronald Koegler provided additional collaboration.

A private reception and tour of the gallery followed, along with a presentation about The Samarkand by Santa Barbara historian Erin Graffy de Garcia.




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